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Forage minute

Jerry Volesky and Ben Beckman
Nebraska Extension

REMOVING NET WRAP AND TWINE

Is twine or net wrap good feed? Obviously not, but it can cause health problems if animals eat too much of it.

Feeding hay is work. To lighten the work load feeding hay, we often take short cuts and leave some twine or net wrap on the bales. And whether we want them to or not, animals eat some of that twine.



There is the potential for twine to accumulate in the rumen of cattle and cause obstruction. Research at North Dakota State University has confirmed this risk and provided further information on what happens to twine when cattle eat it.

In a series of experiments, the North Dakota research first showed that neither plastic net wrap nor biodegradable twine get digested by rumen microbes. The old fashioned sisal twine, however, does get digested, although quite a bit more slowly than hay.



In another study net wrap was included in the ration fed to steers for an extended period of time. Then, 14 days before the steers were harvested, the net wrap was removed from the feed to learn if the net wrap eaten earlier might get cleared out of the rumen and digestive system. Turns out it was still in the rumen even after 14 days.

So what should you do? First, remember that it doesn’t appear to be a health concern very often. And cows obviously are more at risk than feedlot animals. So, it might be wise to remove as much twine, especially plastic twine, as can be removed easily from bales before feeding. Twine in ground hay may be less of a problem since more of it is likely to pass completely through the animal.

Think about how shortcuts and work-reducing actions you take this winter might affect your animals. Then act accordingly.

PASTURE FERTILITY

After we receive soil tests back from the lab, the next step is developing a plan for pasture fertility. The main nutrients to consider are nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and sometimes sulfur. Today, let’s take a look at phosphorus.

Phosphorus plays a critical role in many plant processes, including root development, N-fixing ability in legumes, plant strength, and a central role in the photosynthetic process. Research in Nebraska and other states has shown that the combined effect of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization often produces higher yields than application of either nutrient alone, especially when phosphorus is low.

In addition to soil test results, phosphorus application will depend on whether or not the pasture is irrigated and how many legumes are present. If legumes make up 25% or more of the pasture’s production, phosphate should be applied at 50% more than for grass alone.

Soil phosphorus can be tested in three ways, Bray, Mehlich and Olsen. All three tests give results in parts per million (ppm), but values for the Bray or Mehlich test will differ from those of the Olsen. It is important to know what test you are using before making a fertilization plan. Recently we went over the Bray/Mehlich test. This week we will look at the Olsen. For the Olsen tests, values over 17 ppm do not need any phosphate applied for either dryland or irrigated pastures.

• 0-3 ppm apply 60 lb. P2O5/acre for irrigated or 40 lb. P2O5/acre for dryland

• 4-10 ppm apply 40 lb. P2O5/acre for irrigated or 20 lb. P2O5/acre for dryland

• 11-17 ppm apply 20 lb. P2O5/acre for irrigated or 10 lb. P2O5/acre for dryland

Phosphorus is fairly immobile, so fertilizing can be done yearly or every other year, as long as applications match recommendations for the length of time desired. The NebGuide G1977: Fertilizing Grass Pastures and Hayland is a great resource if you want more information, and as always, for additional help or information, contact your local extension office.


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